End of an encryption era?

Contact: Ben Kolada

There has been considerable consolidation in the drive encryption sector over the past half-decade, most recently with Dell acquiring OEM partner Credant Technologies. However, with Dell taking Credant off the table, meaningful consolidation may be complete as there are few potential buyers left.

Dell is buying its OEM disk encryption software partner Credant in what could be seen as a tech tuck-in. The acquisition provides Dell with the IP rights to technology it already sells – Credant’s Data Protection Suite was available on Dell’s laptops and workstations as a preconfigured option. Terms weren’t disclosed, but we’re hearing that Credant generated trailing revenue in the $20-30m ballpark. (We’ll have a full report on the transaction in our next Daily 451.)

After earlier rounds of consolidation in this sector by security giants Symantec, McAfee and Check Point Software, there aren’t many potential acquirers left. In fact, it appears that the number of likely targets may outnumber the likely acquirers. Although M&A in this sector seems to be either at its end or near it, two remaining targets we would point to are still-independent vendors WinMagic and Zecurion.

Similar acquisitions to Dell buying Credant

Date announced Acquirer Target Deal value TTM revenue
September 22, 2011 Wave Systems Safend $12.8m Not disclosed
April 29, 2010 Symantec GuardianEdge Technologies $70m $18m
April 29, 2010 Symantec PGP $300m $75m
October 8, 2007 McAfee SafeBoot $350m $60m*
November 20, 2006 Check Point Software Technologies Protect Data [dba Pointsec] $586m $63.8m

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase *451 Research estimate

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Dell as a mobile manager?

Contact: Ben Kolada, Rachel Chalmers, Chris Hazelton

Dell hasn’t hidden its intentions of leveraging its hardware legacy to extend into the enterprise IT market, particularly in regards to software. The PC and server giant recently reinforced its goals with the $2.6bn acquisition of systems management vendor Quest Software. But, as we point out in a recent report, its next move is likely to be in mobile management.

Former CA Technologies CEO and current head of Dell’s software division, John Swainson, made our job a bit easier. Swainson hasn’t been explicit with his plans, but we read some of his recent statements as a signal that Dell may make an imminent move into mobile device management.

That makes sense. Connected devices are the primary target for new applications. They’re also fountains of data that can be gleaned and distilled into BI – which is among the four focus areas for Dell’s software group: security, systems management, business intelligence and applications. In a report detailing the possible future of Dell’s mobile management, we prognosticate about how the company may move into this sector, and with whom. Click here to read the full report.

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What’s a Smarsh to do?

Contact: Ben Kolada

Depending on which way the bidding goes for systems management vendor Quest Software, Smarsh’s future could change considerably. The compliance-focused archiving startup announced in February that it sold a majority of its equity to Quest, just three weeks before its newfound parent became the center of an ongoing bidding war. But one side’s plans for Quest post-close may not include Smarsh.

After the closing bell Tuesday, Vector Capital joined Insight Venture Partners and Quest’s management in announcing that they had increased their offer for Quest to $25.75 per share, for a total deal value of about $2.24bn by our calculations. The revised bid tops a competing offer from an unidentified suitor – widely believed to be Dell – that was announced last week.

While all eyes are on Quest at the moment, the continued bidding casts a shadow over who will ultimately own Smarsh. Right now, the company is seen as more of a Quest investment rather than an operating business unit.

If Insight and the rest ultimately win Quest, Smarsh could be considered just another portfolio company for the private equity firms. However, if that unidentified bidder is Dell, and Dell ultimately wins, Smarsh could soon be cast off, since Dell already offers archiving products competitive to Smarsh. In 2008, Dell acquired MessageOne – a direct rival to Smarsh – for a whopping $155m. Dell also has its own archive storage system, the DX platform, based on software OEMed from Caringo. (However, we’d note that neither of these initiatives seems to have gone too far yet.)

Rather than worry about would could happen in the future, Smarsh is keeping itself busy in the present. The company has announced two acquisitions in the past month. In May, Smarsh bought Web content-archiving vendor Perpetually.com and on Tuesday it announced the purchase of compliance-focused website hoster AdvisorSquare, which targets the finance vertical. The deals should ramp up the company’s growth rate for 2012 and 2013. We estimate that Smarsh generated $20m in revenue last year, or about 30% year-over-year top-line growth.


Date Event
February 14, 2012 Quest Software acquires 60% stake in Smarsh.
March 9 Insight Venture Partners and Quest management offer to buy Quest for $2bn.
May 16 Smarsh picks up Perpetually.com.
June 14 Unidentified bidder offers approximately $2.22bn for Quest.
June 18 Smarsh acquires AdvisorSquare from Symantec.
June 19 Vector Capital joins Insight and Quest management to buy Quest for approximately $2.24bn.

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase

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Shakeout looming in MDM sector?

Contact: Ben Kolada

The crowded mobile device management (MDM) sector is likely to see a shakeout in the near future. By one account, there are already more than 80 firms vying for space in the growing MDM market. As the sector’s more notable vendors increasingly advance ahead of the competition, we expect laggard firms will either shutter their doors or be picked off one by one in small bolt-on technology acquisitions. But as the sector narrows, the future may shine brighter for firms that are making names for themselves.

As the smartphone and tablet take more overall computing share from laptops and desktops, the need for MDM will accelerate. Increasing adoption of tablets, in particular, is driving MDM demand. According to a report by ChangeWave Research, the survey arm of 451 Research, 23% of respondents said they plan on purchasing tablets for their employees in the first quarter of 2012, up from just 5% in the fourth quarter of 2010.

As the largest acquirers continue to consolidate the software stack, we expect to see them move into the MDM market. IBM has already announced a couple such acquisitions, picking up BigFix in July 2010 for an estimated $400m and Worklight in January for an estimated $70m. Dell and BMC are also expected to be eyeing this market, and would likely look at the frontrunners – firms like AirWatch, BoxTone, Good Technology, MobileIron and Zenprise, to name a few – as their top acquisition choices. But these firms aren’t likely to be had for cheap. We’ve already heard rumors that one of them is looking for a $400m-plus exit, and that another was previously in the sights of a $250m deal. Meanwhile, valuations will likely rise as these vendors continue growing. In 2011, Zenprise tripled its headcount, while MobileIron doubled its employee base. AirWatch’s headcount hit 400 last year, and it expects to double that this year.

Dell uses M&A (again) to go it alone in storage

Contact: Brenon Daly

Dell’s reach for AppAssure Software continues the tech giant’s trend of using M&A to reduce its reliance on outside vendors for its $2bn storage business. Most notably, the purchase of Compellent two years ago – following its unsuccessful effort to land 3PAR – reduced Dell’s long-standing partnership with storage powerhouse EMC. In a similar vein, Dell’s acquisition Friday morning of AppAssure is likely to trim its business with data-protection specialist CommVault. (Dell is CommVault’s largest OEM partner, accounting for roughly 20% of that company’s total revenue.)

Terms weren’t revealed but we would expect that Dell paid more than $100m for AppAssure. (Whatever the amount, the deal almost certainly represents a sterling return for Bain Capital, which is AppAssure’s sole backer, having put just $6m into the five-year-old startup.) According to our understanding, AppAssure generated about $20m in 2011, triple the level from the previous year.

For comparison, CommVault stock currently trades near its all-time high. CommVault’s steady run has put the company’s valuation at an eye-popping $2.3bn, or nearly 6 times the expected $400m in revenue for its current fiscal year, which wraps up next month. Word of Dell’s purchase of rival AppAssure put some pressure on CommVault’s high-flying shares. On an otherwise bull-market day on Wall Street, CommVault stock dipped 4% on trading that was more than twice as heavy as average by early Friday afternoon. We’ll have a full report on this deal in tonight’s Daily 451.

Cloud deals arising from the fog

Contact: Ben Kolada

Going into the last day of the 9th Cloud Computing Expo, held in Santa Clara, California, we get the feeling that conference attendees will see an M&A shakeout within the next few years. To a degree, this dealmaking has already begun, with a small handful of exhibitors already having been scooped up, including a couple of firms that were acquired just last month. Meanwhile, the remaining vendors, most of whom are young startups, are scrapping to define and prove themselves for what they hope will someday be their own fruitful exits.

The cloud computing market is real and growing. My 451 Market Monitor colleagues, who have the tedious task of sizing the cloud market, estimate global cloud revenue (excluding SaaS) at $9.8 billion for 2011, with nearly 40% revenue growth expected in 2012. Many players in this sector have already taken note of its potential and acquirers’ interest, resulting in an increase in both deal sizes and deal volume for cloud vendors. According to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase, so far this year a record 465 transactions claimed some aspect of cloud. That’s nearly double what we saw in the same period last year. (To be honest, many of these acquired companies are about as cloudy as snake oil, but there are real cloud deals being done. Platform Computing and Gluster, which both announced their sales last month, sold for an estimated combined deal value just shy of $450m.)

However, in terms of revenue, most of the cloud startups we spoke with haven’t yet really proven themselves commercially. But as these firms transition their focus from product development to marketing and sales, their growth will attract more and more suitors. And double-digit revenue isn’t exactly a requirement for a successful exit, as both the recent CloudSwitch and Cloud.com takeouts proved. Though we understand that none of these companies are looking to sell just yet, we wouldn’t be surprised if cloud-enablement providers such as OnApp, Abiquo and Nimbula are picked off one by one within the next few years. And we were reminded yet again that open source networking and routing vendor Vyatta could someday see a real offer from Dell, though the IT giant would likely face a competing bid from Cisco.

Dual track, but singular outcomes

Contact: Brenon Daly

For the third time in just two months, a tech company that had planned to go public has instead ended up inside a company that’s already public. The latest dual-track sale came Wednesday when Force10 Networks opted to accept a bid from Dell rather than see through its IPO plan. The networking gear vendor had filed its prospectus in March 2010.

The deal follows one month after would-be debutant Apache Design Solutions sold to ANSYS and two months after SiGe Semiconductor went to Skyworks Solutions. Those three transactions probably only generated about $1.2bn in liquidity, including Force10’s reported price of roughly $700m. (As a side note, we might point out that Deutsche Bank Securities was a book runner on all three proposed IPOs.)

As this trio of enterprise-focused startups finds itself snapped out of the IPO pipeline, consumer-oriented companies continue to receive a warm welcome on Wall Street. Consider this: Zillow, which went public earlier this week, now trades at about 20 times trailing revenue. In contrast, Force10, SiGe and Apache Design garnered much more modest valuations ranging roughly from 2-6x trailing revenue in their sales.

What happened to the storage sector’s Class of 2007?

Contact: Brenon Daly

Back in mid-2007, BlueArc was one of a quartet of storage vendors that put in their paperwork to go public during those go-go days on the stock market. However, if the NAS systems specialist, which recently re-filed its prospectus, does manage to see through its offering on this go-round, it will find itself very much alone. All three of BlueArc’s would-be fellow public storage contemporaries have been consumed by larger tech companies. The total bill for those three transactions: $4.8bn.

Dell would have had a hat trick for the Class of 2007 storage firms, if not for Hewlett-Packard. As it was, the Round Rock, Texas-based vendor took home EqualLogic in November 2007 before that company could even go public and then erased Compellent Technologies from the NYSE last December. Of course, Dell was lead bidder for 3PAR last summer, too, before losing out to HP. (And those deals are just for the big storage providers that filed their S1s in 2007. If we move back a year to 2006, another two vendors – Double-Take Software and Isilon Systems – that debuted that year were both gobbled up in 2010.)

With all this consolidation, where does that leave BlueArc? As we penciled out in our report on its planned IPO, the company is almost certain to be worth less when it does hit the market than it would have been worth before the Great Recession. Somewhat perversely, that’s true even though BlueArc will be twice the size that it was when it put in its prospectus in 2007.

If the company finds that prospect too demoralizing, it could always follow its fellow filers and opt for a trade sale. We would have put forward Oracle as a possible buyer of BlueArc, in a kind of ‘discount’ play for NetApp. But that seems even less likely since Oracle rolled in Pillar Data Systems on Wednesday morning. So, it looks like either HDS decides that it wants to own its OEM partner outright or BlueArc (finally) hits the market.

The IPO pipeline just got even drier

Contact: Brenon Daly

Scratch another company off the list of potential IPO candidates for 2011. Managed security services provider (MSSP) SecureWorks got snapped up by Dell on Tuesday for what we understand was a table-clearing bid. (Subscribers can see our full report on the transaction, including our estimated price for SecureWorks.)

The trade sale comes two years after the MSSP was putting the final touches on its prospectus. That offering, which got derailed when the Credit Crisis knocked the equity markets for a loop, was set to be led by Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank. (Merrill Lynch, which got picked up by Bank of America later in 2008, got the print on the sale.) We understand that SecureWorks was getting ready to dust off the prospectus, update the numbers and (finally) get it on file with the SEC later this year.

Instead, Dell moved quickly to secure the deal, which will serve as the foundation for its security offering. We gather that talks only really got going after Thanksgiving, going exclusive almost immediately. And Dell had to pay up for that. Of course, Dell could consider its pickup of SecureWorks a bargain, compared to the last dual-track company it acquired. Recall that Dell paid an eye-popping $1.4bn, or 10 times trailing sales, for EqualLogic back in November 2007. The storage vendor, which had formally put in its prospectus, generated almost exactly the same amount of revenue as SecureWorks.

2010: not the year it could have been for tech M&A

Contact: Brenon Daly

Looking back on dealmaking in 2010, it strikes us that it wasn’t the year that it could have been. With the recession (officially) behind us and many tech companies’ stock prices and cash hoards hitting record levels, we might have thought M&A last year would rebound to pre-Credit Crisis levels. That wasn’t the case.

In 2010, we tallied some 3,200 transactions – a slight 7% increase over the number of deals in the recession-wracked years of 2008 and 2009. In the far more important measure of tech M&A spending, the $178bn in 2010 represented a substantial 21% jump from 2009 levels. But it’s just half the annual amount we saw from 2005-2008. (In fact, the spending in the second quarter of 2007 alone eclipsed the full-year total for 2010.)

Looking deeper at last year’s activity of some of the key tech corporate buyers, we begin to see a partial reason for the muted overall spending, at least compared to pre-Crisis years. Yes, stalwarts like IBM and Hewlett-Packard continued their shopping sprees in 2010. Collectively, that pair announced 23 transactions worth a total of $11.1bn. But other tech bellwethers weren’t so quick to sign deals last year.

Microsoft announced just two purchases in 2010. Symantec sat out the entire second half of 2010 – a period, we might note, that saw its largest rival, McAfee, get snapped up. Cisco Systems did fewer deals in 2010 than in 2009. Included in the list of 2009 transactions for the networking giant were a pair of $3bn acquisitions (Starent Networks and Tandberg), while the largest deal Cisco announced last year was the $99m pickup of CoreOptics.

And although Dell was in the news often for M&A last year, both on successful and unsuccessful transactions, its overall activity basically kept pace with recent years. However, the company’s landmark purchase of 2010 (the $960m acquisition of Compellent Technologies) only ranks as the third-largest deal Dell has made since it jump-started its M&A program in mid-2007.